We determined the relative effectiveness and tradeoffs among central, peripheral, and abrupt onset cues in directing attention to a potential target character. Central cues were arrows located at the fixation point, whereas peripheral cues were arrows occurring about 3º away from fixation, near the location of a potential target. These were contrasted with the abrupt onset of an ambiguous part of a character, which later was filled in to reveal a target or a distractor item. Each trial included an arrow cue and an abrupt onset cue, and both expected cue validities and cue–character SOAs were varied factorially. The results showed that, in general, abrupt onsets captured attention more effectively than either central or peripheral arrow cues. However, tradeoffs among separate cue effects indicated that the power of abrupt onsets to capture attention automatically could be overridden by a high-validity spatial cue presented in advance of the onset character. Tradeoffs between the effects of central and abrupt onset cues were additive, indicating that endogenous and exogenous cues have their main effects at different levels in the visual attention system. Peripheral cues and abrupt onsets showed mainly interactive effects, however, consistent with the idea that both types of cues have exogenous components that affect a common pool of attentional resources.